Uncertainty… principle?
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29-04-2014, 07:24 PM
RE: Uncertainty… principle?
(29-04-2014 06:23 PM)living thing Wrote:  Hello cjlr, it’s nice to see you here again; your contributions are always useful. I don’t think we disagree entirely, although it is obvious that we do have different perspectives, and that is great. Different perspectives are the ones you can learn from; if your perspective were exactly the same as mine, I would hardly be able to learn anything new from our exchange of views.

Please excuse me if some of the clarifications I may ask from you seem ignorant; we are dealing with complex topics in a language that is not my native language. I beg for your patience.

No problem!

(29-04-2014 06:23 PM)living thing Wrote:  
(29-04-2014 03:51 PM)cjlr Wrote:  Right.. but the problem is that that's a fundamentally incoherent question according to modern physical theories.
Are you saying that the question “how long does it take for things to not move?” is fundamentally incoherent?

No... but given the definition of Planck distance as the smallest possible quantisation of space, it simply doesn't make sense to speak of half of it.

(29-04-2014 06:23 PM)living thing Wrote:  
(29-04-2014 03:51 PM)cjlr Wrote:  Quantum mechanics means that quantisation is inescapable.
Well I did concede that the Planck time might be the time taken for the slightest change to develop, didn’t I? I am not trying to escape quantisation. In fact, I seem to be alone in these threads at suggesting that matter might be quantised too; there might be a simplest level of material structure. Is there a simplest level of material structure? I don’t know, I just wouldn’t be surprised if there were.

Well, since mass and energy are equivalent, and all energy is quantised, it inevitably follows that all mass is quantised.

But I'm not sure that's the answer you had in mind.

(29-04-2014 06:23 PM)living thing Wrote:  
(29-04-2014 03:51 PM)cjlr Wrote:  That is in fact precisely how time is defined: separation between discrete observable states.
Good! I’m glad I’ve managed to get something apparently right. Although I wouldn’t be too sure about it.

That's simply the best stab at a physically coherent definition of "time" that we've yet come up with.

From a timeless perspective, time has no meaning. One version of this is that all entropy-neutral processes are freely reversible, and so on.

(29-04-2014 06:23 PM)living thing Wrote:  
(29-04-2014 03:51 PM)cjlr Wrote:  A thought experiment such as yours may be of some interest but need not - and here does not - bear any direct correspondence to reality.
Does it not bear any correspondence to reality the fact that things lose motion as they are progressively frozen? Does it not bear any correspondence to reality that the trails of moving objects as captured in photographs are proportional to the exposure times?

It does - motion slows to the zero temperature limit. But quantum mechanics says that it never stops, even at that limit!

A photograph is a statistical collection of photon impacts; if this were slowed and attenuated enough, it would be a pattern of single photon impacts.

(29-04-2014 06:23 PM)living thing Wrote:  
(29-04-2014 03:51 PM)cjlr Wrote:  ... But that's fallacious.

There are no hidden variables. There is no reason to presuppose any "additonal" information to exist beyond the theoretical limitations as we understand them.
I’m sorry, what exactly is fallacious? How have I mentioned hidden variables? What “additional” information existing beyond theoretical limitations as currently understood am I presupposing?

What I meant was, when you said (slight paraphrase) "that our knowledge is fuzzy does not mean an object's precise properties are fuzzy"...

According to the precepts of quantum theory, fundamental properties are "fuzzy".

I quote one of my better textbooks on the matter:
Griffiths Wrote:To the layman, the philosopher, or the classical physicist, a statement of the form "this particle doesn't have a well-defined position" (or momentum, or x-component of spin angular momentum, or whatever) sounds vague, incompetent, or (worst of all) profound. It is none of these.

(29-04-2014 06:23 PM)living thing Wrote:  
(29-04-2014 03:51 PM)cjlr Wrote:  It is not that knowledge of quantum-scale positions of, say, particles has limitations, although that is true for different reasons.
So is it, or is it not?

Here I don't have to quote someone else, but merely myself from earlier in the thread:
(22-04-2014 06:03 PM)cjlr Wrote:  Well, sure; though with the caveat that generally speaking basal uncertainty and observer effects are conflated...

Every real experimental apparatus introduces some element of uncertainty.

Every quantum system possesses innate and irreducible uncertainty quite independently of any experimental concerns.

(29-04-2014 06:23 PM)living thing Wrote:  
(29-04-2014 03:51 PM)cjlr Wrote:  It is that naive/classical phenomena do not exist. They are artifacts of (limited, human) perception at certain scales of interaction.
My view is definitely not the classical and if you find it naïve you probably have your reasons, but in any case I agree in that phenomena do not exist; I would say that they occur (those that occur, of course. Phenomena that do not occur, such as creation of universes, do not occur).

I don't mean naive as a judgment, but without some background in how modern physics sees the world one is missing a huge and key component in understand just what is meant by concepts such as space, time, and the like.

(29-04-2014 06:23 PM)living thing Wrote:  
(29-04-2014 03:51 PM)cjlr Wrote:  The Planck "constant" - with many others - is simply a ratio between pre-existing units of measurement.

In this case between units of energy and units of frequency.

(reduced meaning merely the addition of a 1/2π factor)
I thank you for your clarifications, although Hafnof seemed to be considering the Planck constant as somehow the smallest thing, and I was simply trying to point out how even smaller notions such as half the reduced Planck constant can be meaningful.

That's down to the terminology being imprecise. The Planck constant is the ratio I mentioned.

The Planck units are the fundamental units - length and time being the most comprehensible of them, referring as they do to the minimum quantisations of spacetime.

(29-04-2014 06:23 PM)living thing Wrote:  
(29-04-2014 03:51 PM)cjlr Wrote:  You may have heard of a thing called zero-point energy.

A quantum oscillator has non-zero ground energy. This means that it is not possible to remove all its energy. As an idealised experimental apparatus we can conceive of an infinitely capable heat reservoir and refrigerator. That doesn't matter.

Because such a system can't have zero energy, it can't "stop" moving, even in the zero-temperature limit.
Of course any kind of oscillator has non-zero ground energy; if it had no energy, it wouldn’t be an oscillator.

A classical oscillator has zero energy in the zero-temperature limit - that's the comparison.

The gist remains: there is no possible way to "stop" all motion.
(but if things behaved classically, it would be!)

(29-04-2014 06:23 PM)living thing Wrote:  So I think we basically agree; I can neither fully freeze an object nor stop the universe from changing. Although I don't agree with calling it zero-temperature limit if the system cannot have zero energy. The system cannot stop moving during any interval of time chosen, but that does not mean that motion occurs during an instant. Motion during a zero-duration instant would involve infinite velocities.

Zero temperature is not actually a thing, it's a theoretical construct. An amazingly useful and illuminating one, but not actually a thing.

Insofar as temperature has a reliable coherent definition, it has a limit, and in that limit, classical systems have no energy and quantum systems do.

The thing is, though, that it's not motion in a classical sense. The classical limit of a quantum oscillator reproduces the classical motion for the quantum distributions - the peak distribution of momentum follows the classical curve for exact momentum.

This recalls the earlier idea that momentum and position are simply not precisely defined at a quantum level. The (pseudo-classical) motion of the particle settles into the minimum and sits there stably, but unlike the classical particle in the same situation it still has a finite uncertainty relation and thus exists as a probabilistic distribution of position/momentum waveforms.

Is that "motion"? Certainly not in the classical sense...

(29-04-2014 06:23 PM)living thing Wrote:  
(29-04-2014 03:51 PM)cjlr Wrote:  That's... not quite valid either. Most interactions are - at least in some ways - symmetric in space and time coordinates. This is a necessary consequence of the general-relativistic viewpoint.
What does that symmetry in space and time coordinates mean, and how have I questioned it?

It seems to me that you are treating space and time as distinct and distinguishable types of measurement. Under general relativity they are not.

The prototypical example is the relation between length contraction and time dilation. Every observer sees their own measures of time and space as being constant. So, if two observers are in relative motion, they observe things differently (in order that the speed of light remain universally constant). Holding distance constant one sees time dilate (decrease). Holding time constant one sees distance contract (decrease). The dilation and contraction are mathematically equivalent - they are symmetric.

(29-04-2014 06:23 PM)living thing Wrote:  Then again, I try not to take any notion as a given truth, so if I turn out to be questioning the general-relativistic viewpoint, so be it, I don’t mind. I don’t think there are unquestionable truths.

That's a perfectly reasonable attitude - but at the same time, a century of scientific consensus surely carries with it some weight of credible authority?

(29-04-2014 06:23 PM)living thing Wrote:  It may well be that I am simply too stupid to understand the general-relativistic viewpoint, of course, but one problem I have often encountered when reading about it is that books are not interactive containers of knowledge; you can ask a book for clarifications, but it won’t answer. People are interactive containers of knowledge, but when I’ve spoken about the subject with people, I have often found that they resorted to reading the books out loud, which didn’t help. I understand that your time is probably limited, and I’d hate asking you to spend it on my education, so I’ll simply suggest something you can do if you find it worth the effort. Since you obviously know a lot about it, and for the benefit of everyone reading this online forum, you could begin a series of interactive threads explaining the general-relativistic viewpoint; a series of threads were the rest of us can ask you questions until we understand it.

If you spend any time even considering the idea, I already thank you for it.

I don't know if I could handle an "ask cjlr about physics" thread. I would put a awful lot of pressure on myself to come up with good enough answers, and my real work would suffer as a consequence.

But if you search my posting history for the word "quantum", you could probably put together the start of a decent lecture series.
Tongue

(29-04-2014 06:23 PM)living thing Wrote:  
(29-04-2014 03:51 PM)cjlr Wrote:  That's never a good way to start.
Tongue
Are you really suggesting that the good way to start is taking notions as truths, even if they don’t make sense? And why shouldn’t I believe in gods, then? They don't make sense, but following your advice...

No, no!

I meant to say that "that doesn't make sense to me" is not a very good starting position, especially when it comes to modern science.

(29-04-2014 06:23 PM)living thing Wrote:  
(29-04-2014 03:51 PM)cjlr Wrote:  That's really a false dichotomy.

E=MC2, after all.
Yes, but you are probably aware that the M in E=MC2 does not stand for “matter”, it stands for “mass”, aren't you? Mass is not matter; mass is another abstract implication conveyed by the existence of matter.

"Matter" is not a well-defined term; "mass" is. To what are you referring by the word "matter"? I'm still not clear.

I mean, "particles", perhaps, but then, a particle is just a discrete thing possessed of mass and/or energy...

(29-04-2014 06:23 PM)living thing Wrote:  I presume that you are describing my last sentence as a false dichotomy (“I can understand existence without motion, but I cannot understand motion without existence”). And seeing how you bring E=MC2 as an additional possibility, thus breaking the dichotomy, I guess that the third option is that existence can somehow transform into motion and vice versa. If that is not what you mean, I kindly ask you to please rephrase your objection so that I can properly understand it. Meanwhile, I can rephrase what I meant; maybe I chose a poor way to express it.

It's as I referred to earlier; there can't be existence without motion, according to our current best physical theories.

Certainly the latter of your choices does not make sense - but neither does the former! And thus, the dichotomy is resolved...
Big Grin

(29-04-2014 06:23 PM)living thing Wrote:  I can find meaning in existence by itself, without considering anything but material structures occupying non-zero volumes of space, each located at some distance and in some direction from each other. Things may interact over time as a result of their location in space, but their interaction is not a requirement in order for them to be somewhere in relation to each other.

Also, things may interact over distance as a result of their duration in space.

But, yeah, that sounds reasonable.

(29-04-2014 06:23 PM)living thing Wrote:  I can find meaning in change when I view it in terms of matter; change happens when material structures move and rotate in relation to one another. But I cannot find meaning in change if I consider matter to disappear; if material structures are not there, what changes in relation to what? What is motion if not something's change in location or orientation? In order for something to move, there first needs to be something. If I remove the notion of matter from my mental model, the notion of energy disappears too.

Coordinates and measurements refer to something, that is definitely true. So it is very interesting to ask in what sense they exist then there is nothing to refer to.

But once more - according to our current best physical theories (I type that phrase a lot, don't I?) - our present understanding is that within the framework of the universe as we know it, it is not possible for there not to be anything. It's just not a very clear question.

(29-04-2014 06:23 PM)living thing Wrote:  But I don’t have any conceptual problem removing the notion of energy from my mental model. If I had two balls… hold on, I do have two balls. If I had two perfectly rigid spherical material structures with no electrical charge, in contact so that their gravitational potential energy were zero, and with no kinetic energy either, they would just not move. Ok, I can understand that.

Yes. True. But those are implicitly classical objects!

And that means that there is a lot more going on than is captured by their classical physics.

(29-04-2014 06:23 PM)living thing Wrote:  I don’t know. As I’ve said a few times already, I cannot say I truly know. My view may be terribly naïve, and I may just be an ignorant trying but failing to understand the complex universe around me; I don’t want you to believe anything that I’ve said. I do thank you for pointing out fallacies in my arguments, even though I still don’t quite understand how my arguments are fallacious. But I hope that you will be kind enough to explain how they are in a language that I can comprehend.

Oh, you don't want to know how much I actually love discussing and explaining physics to people.

(29-04-2014 06:23 PM)living thing Wrote:  Thanks again for your valuable contribution, cjlr. It is a pleasure to see your nickname in this thread.

Have a great time!

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30-04-2014, 08:23 AM
RE: Uncertainty… principle?
I guess a key point here is that thought experiments are useful, but we have built up a great deal of observation and evidence over the last century. If one is to reject currently theory on the basis of a thought experiment then the new explanation has to cover a lot of very well worked and very precise ground. One must be aware of much of this observation both in order to construct thought experiments that correspond to reality, and to consider overturning current notions.

Current notions are weird:
- time and space are in some sense interchangeable and equivalent
- matter is just energy and routinely pops into existence out of nothing but energy when particles collide
- the stuff that makes up everything we know of in the universe doesn't precisely exist in a sense we can intuitively understand,
- particles exert forces on each other by exchanging still smaller particles
- there is an inherent granularity to the universe,
- Everything is in some sense inherently uncertain in space and time
- Whenever anything small is travelling it behaves like a wave and even interferes with itself along the way, but always arrives as a quantized "particle".
... but these weird notions have stood up to all comers for approaching a century now and no better explanation for observed data has presented itself.

It is possible, likely even perhaps, that one day we will see past this quantum level of existence and find out what things are "really" made of. What that is and whether it will be more weird or less weird than what we can observe today is yet to be determined.

Give me your argument in the form of a published paper, and then we can start to talk.
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30-04-2014, 10:23 AM
RE: Uncertainty… principle?
Just as a side comment...

We can't ever observe anything that has been frozen in time.

I just thought I'd leave that there.

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30-04-2014, 11:43 AM
RE: Uncertainty… principle?
Hello again, cjlr, thanks for clearing up a few notions, although I must confess that I still respectfully disagree with your view. I’m not saying that you’re wrong; simply that I view things differently, possibly due to my ignorance or even my stupidity. But I am glad that we seem to agree in one fundamental notion: there are no unquestionable truths.

(29-04-2014 07:24 PM)cjlr Wrote:  
(29-04-2014 06:23 PM)living thing Wrote:  Are you saying that the question “how long does it take for things to not move?” is fundamentally incoherent?
No... but given the definition of Planck distance as the smallest possible quantisation of space, it simply doesn't make sense to speak of half of it.
The Planck constant (the reduced Planck constant if we are considering angular frequencies) describes the smallest possible quantisation of action, yet it does make sense to speak of half of it; several particles at the quantum level have a spin value expressed in half integers of the reduced Planck constant.

Nevertheless, the question was not so much about half Planck lengths but about whether motion occurs during the non-length of an instant.

(29-04-2014 07:24 PM)cjlr Wrote:  
(29-04-2014 06:23 PM)living thing Wrote:  I seem to be alone in these threads at suggesting that matter might be quantised too
Well, since mass and energy are equivalent, and all energy is quantised, it inevitably follows that all mass is quantised.

But I'm not sure that's the answer you had in mind.
Well spotted; it isn’t.

I wrote “matter” and not “mass”. In my subjective and possibly mistaken view, matter is the substance that constitutes real information (the set of things that exist out there as well as our own bodies, at every level of their structure). Mass appears to be an abstract notion reflecting matter’s resistance to changes in its state of motion, although it is also related to the way material structures attract one another, both of which are descriptions of matter’s behaviour, not its structure. Since mass is an abstract notion reflecting matter’s behaviour, I don’t have any problem with it being equal to energy, which is also an abstract notion reflecting matter’s behaviour. In fact, the way both notions deal with motion and changes in motion does suggest that they are very much related. But mass is not matter; mass is an abstract notion about matter that we can extract from matter's behaviour.

(29-04-2014 07:24 PM)cjlr Wrote:  That's simply the best stab at a physically coherent definition of "time" that we've yet come up with.

From a timeless perspective, time has no meaning. One version of this is that all entropy-neutral processes are freely reversible, and so on.
Well, I guess if the premise of the perspective is for it to be timeless, then I am not surprised that time becomes meaningless in such perspective in which time has been removed.

But what exactly do you mean by a timeless perspective? How can we talk about the reversibility of processes from a timeless perspective? I can only understand process reversibility in a context where time does progress; processes are entities that occur over a length of time. What exactly do you call a process?

(29-04-2014 07:24 PM)cjlr Wrote:  It does - motion slows to the zero temperature limit. But quantum mechanics says that it never stops, even at that limit!
Fair enough; I’m not describing the view of quantum mechanics but my own, and in my view, motion stops if I consider a durationless instant. I may be wrong, but that is the way I view it because I still don’t understand how things might change their relative location and/or orientation instantaneously. If you manage to explain that to me in a way that I can understand, that will probably change my view.

(29-04-2014 07:24 PM)cjlr Wrote:  A photograph is a statistical collection of photon impacts; if this were slowed and attenuated enough, it would be a pattern of single photon impacts.
I am not sure of what you mean. If there is a pattern of impacts (the plural is yours) it doesn’t matter that each photon is a single entity; I still have a collection of photon impacts. What exactly do you mean?

And just out of curiosity, if I managed to take a photograph capturing only one photon, what might that image look like?

(29-04-2014 07:24 PM)cjlr Wrote:  What I meant was, when you said (slight paraphrase) "that our knowledge is fuzzy does not mean an object's precise properties are fuzzy"...

According to the precepts of quantum theory, fundamental properties are "fuzzy”.
Well, in my view, some fundamental properties of material structures such as their location are only diffuse over non-zero lengths of time, but precise at every durationless instant; I guess I don’t share the precepts of quantum theory. Are they mandatory precepts?

(29-04-2014 07:24 PM)cjlr Wrote:  
(29-04-2014 06:23 PM)living thing Wrote:  
(29-04-2014 03:51 PM)cjlr Wrote:  It is not that knowledge of quantum-scale positions of, say, particles has limitations, although that is true for different reasons.
So is it, or is it not?
Here I don't have to quote someone else, but merely myself from earlier in the thread:
(22-04-2014 06:03 PM)cjlr Wrote:  Well, sure; though with the caveat that generally speaking basal uncertainty and observer effects are conflated…
Every real experimental apparatus introduces some element of uncertainty.

Every quantum system possesses innate and irreducible uncertainty quite independently of any experimental concerns.
Experimentation and uncertainty are notions related to our knowledge about the things out there; as living entities, we extract information through our interactions with the things around us and that is how we gain knowledge. However, our knowledge about the things out there is not the things out there; the things out there are different entities from the notions about them in our minds, conveyed by the motion of things in our brain. Is it so difficult to distinguish abstract notions in our minds from real structures outside our skulls?

(29-04-2014 07:24 PM)cjlr Wrote:  I don't mean naive as a judgment, but without some background in how modern physics sees the world one is missing a huge and key component in understand just what is meant by concepts such as space, time, and the like.
You seem to be making the assumption that I don’t have some background in how modern physics “sees” the world (although modern physics doesn’t see a thing, because it is a collection of abstract notions. It is real physicists what may see and otherwise experience the universe). But you don’t really know my background, it is also possible that I am familiar with those notions yet I choose not to take them necessarily as truths. You seem to have a tendency to discard ideas that do not point to the model of the universe in your mind as naïve, but please don’t be naïve in thinking that you cannot be mistaken; every one of us is susceptible of being mistaken.

(29-04-2014 07:24 PM)cjlr Wrote:  A classical oscillator has zero energy in the zero-temperature limit - that's the comparison.

The gist remains: there is no possible way to "stop" all motion.
(but if things behaved classically, it would be!)
Well, yes, but I agree that there is no possible way to stop all motion; the universe cannot be frozen at any specific instant. Therefore, my view is not the classical view. Will you please stop addressing classical mechanics, which is not the view I am describing, and try to understand my view instead?

(29-04-2014 07:24 PM)cjlr Wrote:  Zero temperature is not actually a thing, it's a theoretical construct. An amazingly useful and illuminating one, but not actually a thing.
I agree.

(29-04-2014 07:24 PM)cjlr Wrote:  Insofar as temperature has a reliable coherent definition, it has a limit, and in that limit, classical systems have no energy and quantum systems do.

The thing is, though, that it's not motion in a classical sense. The classical limit of a quantum oscillator reproduces the classical motion for the quantum distributions - the peak distribution of momentum follows the classical curve for exact momentum.

This recalls the earlier idea that momentum and position are simply not precisely defined at a quantum level. The (pseudo-classical) motion of the particle settles into the minimum and sits there stably, but unlike the classical particle in the same situation it still has a finite uncertainty relation and thus exists as a probabilistic distribution of position/momentum waveforms.

Is that "motion"? Certainly not in the classical sense…
I’m sorry, was that your definition of “motion”? I am not sure I’ve understood it. Can you please try to define in a concise way what you understand by motion? What exactly are you referring to if you say that something moves? Thanks.

(29-04-2014 07:24 PM)cjlr Wrote:  It seems to me that you are treating space and time as distinct and distinguishable types of measurement. Under general relativity they are not.
Well, I guess I don’t agree with general relativity; I’ve already explained several times how I find sufficient differences between both notions to consider them separately. Am I right at doing so? Maybe not. Are you right in considering them indistinct and indistinguishable? Maybe not.

(29-04-2014 07:24 PM)cjlr Wrote:  The prototypical example is the relation between length contraction and time dilation. Every observer sees their own measures of time and space as being constant. So, if two observers are in relative motion, they observe things differently (in order that the speed of light remain universally constant). Holding distance constant one sees time dilate (decrease). Holding time constant one sees distance contract (decrease). The dilation and contraction are mathematically equivalent - they are symmetric.
I presume that when you wrote "time dilate (decrease)" you meant "time dilate (increase)", because if both dilation and contraction imply decrease then they are not symmetrical.

Nevertheless, I would like you to describe exactly what you mean by "holding distance constant" (when we are talking about things in relative motion) and why you can bring up the thought experiment of holding time constant (in which case I don't think any of the elements in the system can be said to move) as if it proved anything, but when I bring it up it is only an exercise that "may be of some interest but need not - and here does not - bear any direct correspondence to reality", even when you have conceded that the notions I described did bear at least some correspondence to reality.

(29-04-2014 07:24 PM)cjlr Wrote:  That [not thinking that there are unquestionable truths] is a perfectly reasonable attitude - but at the same time, a century of scientific consensus surely carries with it some weight of credible authority?
Not in my view, because I don’t gauge notions based on their credibility, but on their understandability. If I have to resort to the credibility of a source in order to accept the validity of a notion, then I put my acceptance of that notion as a truth on hold; I don’t consider it a truth and pretend it is part of my knowledge.

I don’t believe in authorities in the sense that they are people too, as susceptible of being mistaken as I am. And I especially do not view weight of credible authority in one century of scientific consensus when that century comes after someone’s ideas overturned three centuries of previous scientific consensus. Science is not a democracy, and the majority can be wrong too. In fact, the common claim that science is self-correcting, while not strictly true, does imply that scientific consensus can be mistaken and overturned by new ideas. I say that the claim is not strictly true because, even though mistakes are often corrected, mistakes in science can also be left uncorrected.

For example, a couple of centuries ago, Dalton mistakenly believed, claimed and convinced others that the basic chemical units were atomic in their nature, because he didn’t know of any method to break them into simpler structures. Around a hundred years later, Thomson realised that cathode-ray emission was, in fact, a physical way to break so-called “atoms” into simpler structures. Did science become corrected? Were those basic chemical units not referred to as “atoms” thereon? No, physical science chose to ignore linguistic science and redefine the term “atom” so that it could be used in reference to things that are not atomic. Nowadays, computer science uses the notion in its original sense of indivisibility while the physicochemical and twisted notion of a divisible “atom” has gained popularity even outside the scope of science. In common language, the word “atom” is often used to describe something that is very small.

I wish science were truly self-correcting, but it won’t be for as long as we consider that we have not made any mistakes. I understand that I can be mistaken, do you understand that you can be mistaken?

(29-04-2014 07:24 PM)cjlr Wrote:  I don't know if I could handle an "ask cjlr about physics" thread. I would put a awful lot of pressure on myself to come up with good enough answers, and my real work would suffer as a consequence.
I think I know what you mean, I sometimes spend more time than I really have putting together all those ideas in one piece of text; it is indeed a large effort. All I can do is thank you for the time you do put into this forum.

But I hope that you don’t expect me to take as truths the notions you seem to consider true simply because you consider them true, unless you are willing to provide an explanation, that I can understand, for why you consider them to be true. You don’t have to consider the notions I put forward as truths, and in fact my advice is that you don’t consider them as truths, just in case they’re not true. I hope you will understand the notions I put forward, but I don’t want you to believe them. Can I rest assured that I don’t have to believe the notions you are putting forward? Am I entitled to disagree?

(29-04-2014 07:24 PM)cjlr Wrote:  But if you search my posting history for the word "quantum", you could probably put together the start of a decent lecture series.
Thanks for the hint, I probably will, but knowing already how you seem keen on quoting textbooks (as if I didn’t have access to textbooks myself!) and especially seeing how you haven’t really welcome the idea of answering questions, I wonder if those non-interactive lectures will be as effective as I desire them to be. Don’t forget that our knowledge relies on our interactions with the things around us; an interactive conversation is far more effective as a learning tool than a non-interactive lecture. But your time is for you to decide how you use it.

(29-04-2014 07:24 PM)cjlr Wrote:  I meant to say that "that doesn't make sense to me" is not a very good starting position, especially when it comes to modern science.
Oh, yeah, the best would be understanding everything from the start. Unfortunately, when I was born, nothing made sense to me. In fact, the portion of my brain that enables me to make sense of things wasn’t even functioning; the length of our in-uterus development is not determined by when our brain is ready to operate, but by when our heads become too large to go through our mothers’ pelvises. Human beings don’t start making sense of things until they are about six to eight months old, although in certain cases it may be less and in other cases it may be more. You may be the exception, though. Were you born with a completely functional brain full of knowledge?

If the notions you present make sense to you, I am happy for you and I even envy you in a good way; I wish they made sense to me too. Meanwhile, they don’t. And I am sorry if my starting position is that of ignorance, but I don’t see why that should mean that I must accept as truths whatever anyone claims to be true.

(29-04-2014 07:24 PM)cjlr Wrote:  It's as I referred to earlier; there can't be existence without motion, according to our current best physical theories.
Maybe our current best physical theories are mistaken; I don’t find any problem understanding existence without motion, it seems to be you who requires some sort of interaction in order to have existence. I guess I’ll have to wait to see how the next (in time) best physical theories describe the notion. I hope I don't have to wait for nearly three hundred more years.

(29-04-2014 07:24 PM)cjlr Wrote:  Certainly the latter of your choices [motion without existence] does not make sense - but neither does the former [existence without motion]! And thus, the dichotomy is resolved...
(29-04-2014 07:19 AM)living thing Wrote:  I can find meaning in existence by itself (…) Things may interact over time as a result of their location in space, but their interaction is not a requirement in order for them to be somewhere in relation to each other.
Also, things may interact over distance as a result of their duration in space.

But, yeah, that sounds reasonable.
Ok, so you solve the apparently false dichotomy by declaring both options nonsensical, but then you declare that the first option sounds reasonable. So the dichotomy is not solved after all. And since you’ve claimed that the latter of my options was certainly (not very likely, but certainly) nonsensical, whereas the former appears to sound reasonable, then you seem to be agreeing with me in this respect; it is reasonable to consider existence without motion, but it is nonsensical to consider motion without existence. To be honest, I’ll be surprised if we really agree on this one, but I still find meaning in existence without motion.

(29-04-2014 07:24 PM)cjlr Wrote:  Coordinates and measurements refer to something, that is definitely true. So it is very interesting to ask in what sense they exist then there is nothing to refer to.

But once more - according to our current best physical theories (I type that phrase a lot, don't I?) - our present understanding is that within the framework of the universe as we know it, it is not possible for there not to be anything. It's just not a very clear question.
You do mention our “current best physical theories” a lot, as if that were somehow going to impress me. In my view, the reason why it is not possible for there not to be anything is that matter most likely comes in indivisible chunks that cannot be destroyed; a finite and constant number of individual pieces of matter that cannot be created or destroyed. But if those things could themselves turn into abstract ability to perform work, they would be disappearing; we would be left with nothing but an abstract ability of nothing to exert a force upon nothing over a distance.

(29-04-2014 07:24 PM)cjlr Wrote:  Yes. True. But those are implicitly classical objects!

And that means that there is a lot more going on than is captured by their classical physics.
I can see why you view them as implicitly classical objects; I did, on purpose and for clarity, leave electromagnetic interactions and other complexities behind. I was trying to illustrate how I don’t find conceptual problems in imagining a complex structure lacking any form of energy, even if that may be impossible in practice as we have both agreed several times.

I don’t think the behaviour of individual pieces of matter, if they do exist, can be described using classical mechanics. For one, classical mechanics does not take into account electromagnetic interactions and I, however, try to take them into account. But that will hopefully be a topic for another thread.

(29-04-2014 07:24 PM)cjlr Wrote:  
(29-04-2014 06:23 PM)living thing Wrote:  I hope that you will be kind enough to explain how they are in a language that I can comprehend.
Oh, you don't want to know how much I actually love discussing and explaining physics to people.
Don’t I? Well, I think I nevertheless know that you love discussing physics, I have already enjoyed your virtual presence on several physics-related threads. But I am not so sure about your love towards explaining it. Yes, you probably like it, but when I’ve suggested those interactive conversations about general relativity, your reaction hasn’t been exactly “Great idea! That way I can explain physics to people, something I love so much”.

I thank you for your efforts to enlighten me and others who may also read this thread, I really do. You have already spent an infinite amount of time more on it than you had to, because you have no obligation whatsoever to possibly waste your time trying to solve my ignorance. But I hope you don’t mind if we still don’t fully agree.

Have a great day, cjlr. Take care!

————————————————————
… this is not my signature! It is something I’ve added to this specific post just for fun, that looks a bit like your signature.
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30-04-2014, 02:09 PM
RE: Uncertainty… principle?
Hello Hafnof, welcome back!

(30-04-2014 08:23 AM)Hafnof Wrote:  I guess a key point here is that thought experiments are useful, but we have built up a great deal of observation and evidence over the last century. If one is to reject currently theory on the basis of a thought experiment then the new explanation has to cover a lot of very well worked and very precise ground. One must be aware of much of this observation both in order to construct thought experiments that correspond to reality, and to consider overturning current notions.
I agree with you, although I don't want to give the impression that I am attempting to overturn anything.

If I wanted to overturn notions currently held as truths, I'd be asking people to believe my ideas instead, which I am not. I am simply interested in having them taken into consideration by people who (hopefully) are not prone to believe stuff. On one hand, because that will make it less likely that my ideas will be taken as truths if they are bollocks, and on the other, because non-believers are generally more receptive to views different than their own, whereas believers tend to view differing perspectives as challenges to their identity. And I don't want to change anyone's opinion, I'm happy describing my own.

But I do agree with what you say; if there are more accurate explanations for the structures and behaviours around us than the ones currently held as truths, they must take into account plenty of notions gathered not only in the last century but for as long as living beings have been able to learn notions. That is why I try to take into account whatever I may have learned from maths, physics, chemistry, molecular biology, ecology, mechanical engineering, computer science, music, linguistics and even history, as well as my own observations of the structures and behaviours that I find around me.

For example, I try to take into account how our nervous system works in order to distinguish the products of our thoughts from the things that I may find out there. And that gives me a possibly mistaken but very clear picture of what things exist and what things don't. Stars, planets, mountains, rocks, trees, frogs, their cells, molecules in their cells, so-called "atoms" in their cells... all those can be described as things occupying some volume somewhere in relation to something else, for a specific length of time. All those things exist, at least for a while. If it turns out that matter is indeed quantised, then the basic units of matter exist too, but they simply exist; not for a while. They cannot appear nor disappear; it is the things made of individual bits of matter what can appear (upon their assembly) and disappear (upon their disassembly). Sound, words, thoughts, sunrises, unicorns, gods... those entities don't exist; they are information conveyed by the motion of things that do exist. Even existence, itself, does not exist. It is an abstract notion describing how material structures occupy different volumes at different distances in different directions in relation to one another.

Or maybe not, maybe existence is a thing out there; I'm just describing my view.

(30-04-2014 08:23 AM)Hafnof Wrote:  Current notions are weird:
- time and space are in some sense interchangeable and equivalent
Well, I might be able to understand how they are in some sense equivalent: they are both contexts in which information can appear; that is probably why they share some parallelisms. For example, in space, we have matter appearing; in time, we have change appearing. In space, we have distances each covering infinite sizeless points; in time, we have periods each covering infinite durationless instants.

However, I don't think they can be interchangeable; they are different enough. In space, we have three orthogonal axes (material structures are always three-dimensional). In time, we have a single axis. In space, we can move back and forth along any of those three axes, provided that no other structure interferes with our motion. Over time, irreversible processes develop from the past and into the future. In space, matter occupies the volume where it is located; material structures tend to collide and exchange motion. Over time, however, one material structure can be subject to several patterns of change during the same interval; change cannot collide with itself but it can cancel itself out. In space, the lack of real information is not real information (the absence of matter is not matter). Over time, the lack of virtual information is virtual information too; zeroes count as much as ones in a binary transmission.

But I especially do not think they are interchangeable because the universe of time relies on the universe of space, but not the other way round. In order for things to change their relative locations and orientations, things need meaningful locations and orientations that can change. But in order for things to be located somewhere in relation to something else, their location and orientation needn't change. If the information that appears in the context of space could be transformed into information that appears in the context of time, thus disappearing from the context of space, then the context of time would lose its meaning due to the lack of things in space that are able to change their location and/or orientation.

(30-04-2014 08:23 AM)Hafnof Wrote:  - matter is just energy and routinely pops into existence out of nothing but energy when particles collide
I don't believe matter is just energy; when material structures seem to appear out of nothing, I find it more likely that they are temporary arrangements of simpler structures (possibly perfectly simple), resulting from the spatial reorganisation of the bits of matter that constitute the colliding particles, as well as their motion. The fact that photons do display particle-like behaviours, as well as their very obvious wave-like behaviours, suggests to me that they too are an arrangement of matter (albeit with plenty of internal and external motion) which would not only explain how the collision of two photons may yield two material structures, but also how they can travel through a vacuum (since they carry their own medium).

But I am not saying this because I believe that is what happens out there (these are notions in my mind and who knows whether they describe anything real), I am simply suggesting it because I don't understand how something as abstract as the ability of an object to exert a force upon other object over a distance can become an object in itself.

(30-04-2014 08:23 AM)Hafnof Wrote:  - the stuff that makes up everything we know of in the universe doesn't precisely exist in a sense we can intuitively understand
Ah, but that is a trick "question", although not technically a question.

If by "everything we know" you mean the notions in our minds, then that stuff is active change, kinetic energy. If by "everything we know" we mean the knowledge stored in the molecules that make up our genes, then it is energy too, because our genes store relatively large amounts of energy in the arrangement of so-called "atoms" of our ribonucleic acids, but it is potential energy locked into that configuration of "atoms". However, the trick is that neither potential nor kinetic energy exist, in the sense that they do not occupy any volume located anywhere in relation to anything.

But it is useful to remember that the universe out there is not the same thing as the knowledge in our genes and minds. The stuff that makes up the universe that exists out there is matter. Material structures exist precisely (at least for a while) in the sense that, at every instant during their existence, they occupy some volume at some distance in some direction from other material structures. So while my view is not strictly monistic, because I find that there are two fundamental notions (matter and change) it is not strictly dualistic either, because out of those two fundamental notions, only one exists (matter). Matter exists in space. Change happens over time.

Unless I simply consider the whole universe (with all its matter and all its motion) as a huge set of information, in which case my view becomes rather monistic. Real information consists of matter arranged in space, virtual information consists of change arranged over time, but both are information and both share some attributes that are common to information as a whole. For example, both matter and energy tend to spread outwards as time progresses forward; matter when it has room to move, and energy when it has things that can move. As a whole, the universe (with all its matter and all its motion) expands outwards as time progresses forward.

(30-04-2014 08:23 AM)Hafnof Wrote:  - particles exert forces on each other by exchanging still smaller particles
I am unsure that that is always the case, but it is definitely the case in many kinds of interactions at many levels of structure. However, seeing how energy is quantised and information is quantised too, I would not be surprised at all if matter were also quantised; if there were such a thing as one indivisible bit of real information. And if that were the case, then those things would not be able to exchange energy through the exchange of still smaller particles, because there wouldn't be any smaller particles. Is matter quantised? I don't know.

(30-04-2014 08:23 AM)Hafnof Wrote:  - there is an inherent granularity to the universe
Well, as I've just said, I wouldn't be surprised if that were true, but I don't have the proper evidence to consider that true. But several lines of reasoning point towards the idea of the existing universe being granular.

(30-04-2014 08:23 AM)Hafnof Wrote:  - Everything is in some sense inherently uncertain in space and time
Uncertainty only makes sense in the context of virtual information. Real information is neither true nor false, because it is real. It is virtual information what may be true, false, true and false (depending on the perspective), uncertain, imprecise, etc.

For example, "crocodiles do not like eating penguins". True or false? Now, "a stone". True or false?

I think it is useful to distinguish virtual information from real information.

(30-04-2014 08:23 AM)Hafnof Wrote:  - Whenever anything small is travelling it behaves like a wave and even interferes with itself along the way, but always arrives as a quantized "particle".
Don't forget that in order for the photon to interfere with "itself", it needs to interact with an arrangement of matter that enables two narrow spaces; I am not sure of what happens without that interaction.

Also, don't forget that small things travelling can also behave like particles; for example, they can collide. Two waves may interfere, but they won't collide. You can check that out by filling the sink with water and tapping repeatedly in two different locations; you'll see how both waves interfere with each other as they overlap, but they won't bounce against each other. Small particles in accelerators collide against each other, and that is a behaviour typical of matter, because matter occupies the volumes where it appears.

But things don't need to be small, or travelling fast, in order to display wave-like behaviours. Tectonic plates aren't specially small, nor they move specially fast, but upon interaction with other tectonic plates they display wave-like behaviours that some people call "mountain ranges".

(30-04-2014 08:23 AM)Hafnof Wrote:  ... but these weird notions have stood up to all comers for approaching a century now and no better explanation for observed data has presented itself.
Well, I don't know, but some of those "weird" notions don't seem so weird when I consider them from my perspective. But it may be that I am looking at things from the wrong perspective.

(30-04-2014 08:23 AM)Hafnof Wrote:  It is possible, likely even perhaps, that one day we will see past this quantum level of existence and find out what things are "really" made of. What that is and whether it will be more weird or less weird than what we can observe today is yet to be determined.
My possibly mistaken prediction is that it will be less weird. Things only remain weird and mysterious while the structures and processes behind them are unknown. As our understanding of the universe advances, I predict that the notions will be easier to understand.

But who knows? Maybe in the end christians are right, and there is a son of a bitch god that places seemingly plausible evidence supporting alternative explanations to test our faith, and we will suffer for ever in a hell of torture and fire. I hope not, though. That'd be a fucking psychopath god.

I thank you for your interesting compilation of weird notions. Have a good time!
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30-04-2014, 02:10 PM
RE: Uncertainty… principle?
(30-04-2014 10:23 AM)DLJ Wrote:  Just as a side comment...

We can't ever observe anything that has been frozen in time.

I just thought I'd leave that there.
I would say that is true, although I might be mistaken.
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30-04-2014, 04:10 PM
RE: Uncertainty… principle?
(30-04-2014 11:43 AM)living thing Wrote:  Hello again, cjlr, thanks for clearing up a few notions, although I must confess that I still respectfully disagree with your view. I’m not saying that you’re wrong; simply that I view things differently, possibly due to my ignorance or even my stupidity. But I am glad that we seem to agree in one fundamental notion: there are no unquestionable truths.

Aha! But then we must question even the thing we fundamentally agree on...
Tongue

(30-04-2014 11:43 AM)living thing Wrote:  
(29-04-2014 07:24 PM)cjlr Wrote:  No... but given the definition of Planck distance as the smallest possible quantisation of space, it simply doesn't make sense to speak of half of it.
The Planck constant (the reduced Planck constant if we are considering angular frequencies) describes the smallest possible quantisation of action, yet it does make sense to speak of half of it; several particles at the quantum level have a spin value expressed in half integers of the reduced Planck constant.

Nevertheless, the question was not so much about half Planck lengths but about whether motion occurs during the non-length of an instant.

As I went on to mention later, the constant is merely a unit ratio, and the fundamental units themselves a quite distinct thing...

(30-04-2014 11:43 AM)living thing Wrote:  
(29-04-2014 07:24 PM)cjlr Wrote:  Well, since mass and energy are equivalent, and all energy is quantised, it inevitably follows that all mass is quantised.

But I'm not sure that's the answer you had in mind.
Well spotted; it isn’t.

I wrote “matter” and not “mass”. In my subjective and possibly mistaken view, matter is the substance that constitutes real information (the set of things that exist out there as well as our own bodies, at every level of their structure). Mass appears to be an abstract notion reflecting matter’s resistance to changes in its state of motion, although it is also related to the way material structures attract one another, both of which are descriptions of matter’s behaviour, not its structure. Since mass is an abstract notion reflecting matter’s behaviour, I don’t have any problem with it being equal to energy, which is also an abstract notion reflecting matter’s behaviour. In fact, the way both notions deal with motion and changes in motion does suggest that they are very much related. But mass is not matter; mass is an abstract notion about matter that we can extract from matter's behaviour.

I can't see that as a meaningful or coherent distinction. Neither mass nor energy have any meaning absent interaction, but neither does information. Mass and energy are not "abstract", either; or if they are, then everything is, up to and including all human knowledge and observation, and the term becomes meaningless. In fact "information" would seem to carry far more implications of abstract nature, given its requirement of interpretation. Unless you mean something else?

It does not seem to me as though you've defined matter as anything but "what exists". And I think you'll agree that is a very lacking definition.

(30-04-2014 11:43 AM)living thing Wrote:  
(29-04-2014 07:24 PM)cjlr Wrote:  That's simply the best stab at a physically coherent definition of "time" that we've yet come up with.

From a timeless perspective, time has no meaning. One version of this is that all entropy-neutral processes are freely reversible, and so on.
Well, I guess if the premise of the perspective is for it to be timeless, then I am not surprised that time becomes meaningless in such perspective in which time has been removed.

But what exactly do you mean by a timeless perspective? How can we talk about the reversibility of processes from a timeless perspective? I can only understand process reversibility in a context where time does progress; processes are entities that occur over a length of time. What exactly do you call a process?

A series of interaction which may be ordered. This may be explicit (net entropy increase) or implicit (continuous state paths).

(30-04-2014 11:43 AM)living thing Wrote:  
(29-04-2014 07:24 PM)cjlr Wrote:  It does - motion slows to the zero temperature limit. But quantum mechanics says that it never stops, even at that limit!
Fair enough; I’m not describing the view of quantum mechanics but my own, and in my view, motion stops if I consider a durationless instant. I may be wrong, but that is the way I view it because I still don’t understand how things might change their relative location and/or orientation instantaneously. If you manage to explain that to me in a way that I can understand, that will probably change my view.

Frankly I don't see much reason to privilege your particular viewpoint. Your view is that motion "stops" or at least can "stop". Since this is impossible by quantum theory, either it's wrong or you are.

It isn't that things change instantaneously; that's perhaps a misunderstanding.

Things simply do not have precise values at a quantum level. Infinite precision is a wholly human abstraction - it does not exist. And it would require that infinite precision to say something "stopped" moving entirely.

(30-04-2014 11:43 AM)living thing Wrote:  
(29-04-2014 07:24 PM)cjlr Wrote:  A photograph is a statistical collection of photon impacts; if this were slowed and attenuated enough, it would be a pattern of single photon impacts.
I am not sure of what you mean. If there is a pattern of impacts (the plural is yours) it doesn’t matter that each photon is a single entity; I still have a collection of photon impacts. What exactly do you mean?

And just out of curiosity, if I managed to take a photograph capturing only one photon, what might that image look like?

Each incident photon causes a chemical or electronic interaction on a photoreceptor which is transduced and amplified into a visible change in some output.

A longer exposure captures more photons. That's all that's going on there.

(30-04-2014 11:43 AM)living thing Wrote:  
(29-04-2014 07:24 PM)cjlr Wrote:  What I meant was, when you said (slight paraphrase) "that our knowledge is fuzzy does not mean an object's precise properties are fuzzy"...

According to the precepts of quantum theory, fundamental properties are "fuzzy”.
Well, in my view, some fundamental properties of material structures such as their location are only diffuse over non-zero lengths of time, but precise at every durationless instant; I guess I don’t share the precepts of quantum theory. Are they mandatory precepts?

They are so far as modern science is concerned.

(30-04-2014 11:43 AM)living thing Wrote:  
(29-04-2014 07:24 PM)cjlr Wrote:  Here I don't have to quote someone else, but merely myself from earlier in the thread:Every real experimental apparatus introduces some element of uncertainty.

Every quantum system possesses innate and irreducible uncertainty quite independently of any experimental concerns.
Experimentation and uncertainty are notions related to our knowledge about the things out there; as living entities, we extract information through our interactions with the things around us and that is how we gain knowledge. However, our knowledge about the things out there is not the things out there; the things out there are different entities from the notions about them in our minds, conveyed by the motion of things in our brain. Is it so difficult to distinguish abstract notions in our minds from real structures outside our skulls?

Yes.

After all, all we have are the as-yet-unfalsified predictive models we've managed to cobble together over the centuries.

"We don't know what we don't know", while entirely and indisputably true, is not a useful statement.

(30-04-2014 11:43 AM)living thing Wrote:  
(29-04-2014 07:24 PM)cjlr Wrote:  I don't mean naive as a judgment, but without some background in how modern physics sees the world one is missing a huge and key component in understand just what is meant by concepts such as space, time, and the like.
You seem to be making the assumption that I don’t have some background in how modern physics “sees” the world (although modern physics doesn’t see a thing, because it is a collection of abstract notions. It is real physicists what may see and otherwise experience the universe).

Not that you're unaware, merely not recognising for whatever reason if you are.

(30-04-2014 11:43 AM)living thing Wrote:  But you don’t really know my background, it is also possible that I am familiar with those notions yet I choose not to take them necessarily as truths. You seem to have a tendency to discard ideas that do not point to the model of the universe in your mind as naïve, but please don’t be naïve in thinking that you cannot be mistaken; every one of us is susceptible of being mistaken.

Sure, but an as-yet-unfalsified, self-consistent, predictive, explanatory scientific theory is not just the best way to learn anything about reality I know of (if indeed that's possible - but I assume for convenience that it is) but the only way to do so.

I do not know anything of your background because you declined to answer when I asked you about it. That's your prerogative. But I thought it might help me understand your point of view, that's all.

(30-04-2014 11:43 AM)living thing Wrote:  
(29-04-2014 07:24 PM)cjlr Wrote:  A classical oscillator has zero energy in the zero-temperature limit - that's the comparison.

The gist remains: there is no possible way to "stop" all motion.
(but if things behaved classically, it would be!)
Well, yes, but I agree that there is no possible way to stop all motion; the universe cannot be frozen at any specific instant. Therefore, my view is not the classical view. Will you please stop addressing classical mechanics, which is not the view I am describing, and try to understand my view instead?

But so far as I can tell, your use of certain terms and scenarios is inextricably linked to a classical perspective.

If you are rejecting quantum and relativistic perspectives, what else does that leave?

(30-04-2014 11:43 AM)living thing Wrote:  
(29-04-2014 07:24 PM)cjlr Wrote:  Insofar as temperature has a reliable coherent definition, it has a limit, and in that limit, classical systems have no energy and quantum systems do.

The thing is, though, that it's not motion in a classical sense. The classical limit of a quantum oscillator reproduces the classical motion for the quantum distributions - the peak distribution of momentum follows the classical curve for exact momentum.

This recalls the earlier idea that momentum and position are simply not precisely defined at a quantum level. The (pseudo-classical) motion of the particle settles into the minimum and sits there stably, but unlike the classical particle in the same situation it still has a finite uncertainty relation and thus exists as a probabilistic distribution of position/momentum waveforms.

Is that "motion"? Certainly not in the classical sense…
I’m sorry, was that your definition of “motion”? I am not sure I’ve understood it. Can you please try to define in a concise way what you understand by motion? What exactly are you referring to if you say that something moves? Thanks.

"Motion" is not a well defined term; I am likewise unsure of just what you are referring to. The coherent terms are position and momentum. For any quantum object they cannot be zero. As far as I can tell you are using motion to refer to a change in position with time, and as such no time -> no motion. That seems valid enough superficially but I'm not sure it's meaningful.

After all, in some senses momentum is itself motion. Since the momentum is never zero, that is the sense in which I mean motion cannot cease. Likewise position is never and can never be singularly defined with arbitrary precision. Can something without a singularly well defined position be said to be at "rest" (lacking "motion")?

(30-04-2014 11:43 AM)living thing Wrote:  
(29-04-2014 07:24 PM)cjlr Wrote:  It seems to me that you are treating space and time as distinct and distinguishable types of measurement. Under general relativity they are not.
Well, I guess I don’t agree with general relativity; I’ve already explained several times how I find sufficient differences between both notions to consider them separately. Am I right at doing so? Maybe not. Are you right in considering them indistinct and indistinguishable? Maybe not.

Sure, but again, an as-yet-unfalsified, self-consistent, predictive, explanatory scientific theory is not just the best way to learn anything about reality I know of (if indeed that's possible - but I assume for convenience that it is) but the only way to do so.
Wink

I don't find a stance of "I disagree because I don't like the idea" to be very compelling.

They are only indistinguishable in certain contexts. Macroscopic everyday life is definitely not of of them!

(30-04-2014 11:43 AM)living thing Wrote:  
(29-04-2014 07:24 PM)cjlr Wrote:  The prototypical example is the relation between length contraction and time dilation. Every observer sees their own measures of time and space as being constant. So, if two observers are in relative motion, they observe things differently (in order that the speed of light remain universally constant). Holding distance constant one sees time dilate (decrease). Holding time constant one sees distance contract (decrease). The dilation and contraction are mathematically equivalent - they are symmetric.
I presume that when you wrote "time dilate (decrease)" you meant "time dilate (increase)", because if both dilation and contraction imply decrease then they are not symmetrical.

No, I do mean a decrease. If one is constant the other decreases. I do not mean that the effects are opposite - that's antisymmetric! They are symmetric under exchange - you can swap them, and the outcome does not change.

(30-04-2014 11:43 AM)living thing Wrote:  Nevertheless, I would like you to describe exactly what you mean by "holding distance constant" (when we are talking about things in relative motion)...

Considering measures of distance to be constant. If I am travelling in my car/train/spaceship, it always appears the same size to me. If I am watching it move past me, its size depends on our relative motion.

Consider a particle in the atmosphere. It is travelling towards the Earth's surface. It has a certain lifetime, during which it travels at a certain velocity. The distance it travels, therefore, is its lifetime multiplied by its velocity. Except without relativity, its lifetime is short enough that it can't reach Earth's surface - and yet we do observe it at Earth's surface.

From Earth's frame of reference, the distance is fixed, time is dilated for the moving object, and it therefore can reach the surface. From the particle's frame of reference, its lifetime is fixed, the distance is contracted, and it therefore can reach the surface.

(30-04-2014 11:43 AM)living thing Wrote:  ... and why you can bring up the thought experiment of holding time constant (in which case I don't think any of the elements in the system can be said to move) as if it proved anything...

Again, what I meant by that was holding measurement of time to be constant. This can be and has been amply demonstrated experimentally (GPS clocks being the typical and ominpresent example).

(30-04-2014 11:43 AM)living thing Wrote:  ... but when I bring it up it is only an exercise that "may be of some interest but need not - and here does not - bear any direct correspondence to reality", even when you have conceded that the notions I described did bear at least some correspondence to reality.

... 'cause we weren't really talking about the same thing?

(30-04-2014 11:43 AM)living thing Wrote:  
(29-04-2014 07:24 PM)cjlr Wrote:  That [not thinking that there are unquestionable truths] is a perfectly reasonable attitude - but at the same time, a century of scientific consensus surely carries with it some weight of credible authority?
Not in my view, because I don’t gauge notions based on their credibility, but on their understandability. If I have to resort to the credibility of a source in order to accept the validity of a notion, then I put my acceptance of that notion as a truth on hold; I don’t consider it a truth and pretend it is part of my knowledge.

That's... a way to do things.

But those notions are only given precedence after rigourous evaluation. I can't directly and personally test everything I'm told; it's wholly impractical, as it would be, I assume, for you. At some point it is advantageous to accept the experiences of others as reliable. General scientific consensus is a very good indicator of some measure of reliability.

Go too far in that direction, and, well...

(30-04-2014 11:43 AM)living thing Wrote:  I don’t believe in authorities in the sense that they are people too, as susceptible of being mistaken as I am. And I especially do not view weight of credible authority in one century of scientific consensus when that century comes after someone’s ideas overturned three centuries of previous scientific consensus. Science is not a democracy, and the majority can be wrong too. In fact, the common claim that science is self-correcting, while not strictly true, does imply that scientific consensus can be mistaken and overturned by new ideas. I say that the claim is not strictly true because, even though mistakes are often corrected, mistakes in science can also be left uncorrected.

But I don't see the relevance of that.

Whatever's accepted for a given time and place is implicitly and necessarily limited to that time and place. Who's ever said otherwise?

(30-04-2014 11:43 AM)living thing Wrote:  For example, a couple of centuries ago, Dalton mistakenly believed, claimed and convinced others that the basic chemical units were atomic in their nature, because he didn’t know of any method to break them into simpler structures. Around a hundred years later, Thomson realised that cathode-ray emission was, in fact, a physical way to break so-called “atoms” into simpler structures. Did science become corrected? Were those basic chemical units not referred to as “atoms” thereon? No, physical science chose to ignore linguistic science and redefine the term “atom” so that it could be used in reference to things that are not atomic. Nowadays, computer science uses the notion in its original sense of indivisibility while the physicochemical and twisted notion of a divisible “atom” has gained popularity even outside the scope of science. In common language, the word “atom” is often used to describe something that is very small.

And electrons aren't made of amber. But I don't see the direct relevance of that, either. I actually find etymology fascinating, but the use of terminology lies in a word's current and contextual meaning, not its roots.

Dalton's theories were better than anything else contemporaneous, and it was by working from them that subsequent results and refinements were derived. Does that not count for something?

(30-04-2014 11:43 AM)living thing Wrote:  I wish science were truly self-correcting, but it won’t be for as long as we consider that we have not made any mistakes. I understand that I can be mistaken, do you understand that you can be mistaken?

Uh, yes?

(30-04-2014 11:43 AM)living thing Wrote:  
(29-04-2014 07:24 PM)cjlr Wrote:  I don't know if I could handle an "ask cjlr about physics" thread. I would put a awful lot of pressure on myself to come up with good enough answers, and my real work would suffer as a consequence.
I think I know what you mean, I sometimes spend more time than I really have putting together all those ideas in one piece of text; it is indeed a large effort. All I can do is thank you for the time you do put into this forum.

But I hope that you don’t expect me to take as truths the notions you seem to consider true simply because you consider them true, unless you are willing to provide an explanation, that I can understand, for why you consider them to be true. You don’t have to consider the notions I put forward as truths, and in fact my advice is that you don’t consider them as truths, just in case they’re not true. I hope you will understand the notions I put forward, but I don’t want you to believe them. Can I rest assured that I don’t have to believe the notions you are putting forward? Am I entitled to disagree?

I'm only attempting to explain what I've learned, examined, studied, and accepted.

I do indeed feel entitled to make physical statements with some authority. I regret that I am not always able to explain as clearly as I'd like to the reasoning behind such statements.

(30-04-2014 11:43 AM)living thing Wrote:  
(29-04-2014 07:24 PM)cjlr Wrote:  But if you search my posting history for the word "quantum", you could probably put together the start of a decent lecture series.
Thanks for the hint, I probably will, but knowing already how you seem keen on quoting textbooks (as if I didn’t have access to textbooks myself!) and especially seeing how you haven’t really welcome the idea of answering questions, I wonder if those non-interactive lectures will be as effective as I desire them to be.

I quoted a textbook once. Do you think it inappropriate to quote a brief statement I find expresses a view I agree with? That holds regardless of

I refer to my previous posts since it seemed an obvious thing to do. The more I know of someone else's writing and posting history, the more I feel able to understand what they are saying in subsequent posts. I can only assume the same applies to others with respect to what I write.

(30-04-2014 11:43 AM)living thing Wrote:  Don’t forget that our knowledge relies on our interactions with the things around us; an interactive conversation is far more effective as a learning tool than a non-interactive lecture. But your time is for you to decide how you use it.

And also the fact that if I were to explain a given concept (or at least try to), my first attempt to do so is in all likelihood going to be very similar to however I attempted to do so last time around.

(30-04-2014 11:43 AM)living thing Wrote:  
(29-04-2014 07:24 PM)cjlr Wrote:  I meant to say that "that doesn't make sense to me" is not a very good starting position, especially when it comes to modern science.
Oh, yeah, the best would be understanding everything from the start. Unfortunately, when I was born, nothing made sense to me. In fact, the portion of my brain that enables me to make sense of things wasn’t even functioning; the length of our in-uterus development is not determined by when our brain is ready to operate, but by when our heads become too large to go through our mothers’ pelvises. Human beings don’t start making sense of things until they are about six to eight months old, although in certain cases it may be less and in other cases it may be more. You may be the exception, though. Were you born with a completely functional brain full of knowledge?

That's a rather disingenuous question.

(30-04-2014 11:43 AM)living thing Wrote:  If the notions you present make sense to you, I am happy for you and I even envy you in a good way; I wish they made sense to me too. Meanwhile, they don’t. And I am sorry if my starting position is that of ignorance, but I don’t see why that should mean that I must accept as truths whatever anyone claims to be true.

They don't and didn't make immediate intuitive sense to me. But through education and experience I have come to accept them, even when they are beyond my direct ability to investigate.

It is simply not possible for one person to directly and personally re-affirm the entire evolving body of human knowledge.

(30-04-2014 11:43 AM)living thing Wrote:  
(29-04-2014 07:24 PM)cjlr Wrote:  It's as I referred to earlier; there can't be existence without motion, according to our current best physical theories.
Maybe our current best physical theories are mistaken;

Indeed, but I didn't think I had to say so explicitly.
Tongue

(30-04-2014 11:43 AM)living thing Wrote:  I don’t find any problem understanding existence without motion, it seems to be you who requires some sort of interaction in order to have existence. I guess I’ll have to wait to see how the next (in time) best physical theories describe the notion. I hope I don't have to wait for nearly three hundred more years.

In my mind I can also imagine things without motion. But I cannot translate this into coherent external reality according to my understanding of it.

(30-04-2014 11:43 AM)living thing Wrote:  
(29-04-2014 07:24 PM)cjlr Wrote:  Certainly the latter of your choices [motion without existence] does not make sense - but neither does the former [existence without motion]! And thus, the dichotomy is resolved...
Also, things may interact over distance as a result of their duration in space.

But, yeah, that sounds reasonable.
Ok, so you solve the apparently false dichotomy by declaring both options nonsensical, but then you declare that the first option sounds reasonable. So the dichotomy is not solved after all.

What I meant is that I accepted your reasoning but not your premises.

(30-04-2014 11:43 AM)living thing Wrote:  And since you’ve claimed that the latter of my options was certainly (not very likely, but certainly) nonsensical, whereas the former appears to sound reasonable, then you seem to be agreeing with me in this respect; it is reasonable to consider existence without motion, but it is nonsensical to consider motion without existence. To be honest, I’ll be surprised if we really agree on this one, but I still find meaning in existence without motion.

As I explained above in some detail, I am still not clear on what you mean by motion.

Classical "rest" is an impossibility for quantum objects.

(30-04-2014 11:43 AM)living thing Wrote:  
(29-04-2014 07:24 PM)cjlr Wrote:  Coordinates and measurements refer to something, that is definitely true. So it is very interesting to ask in what sense they exist then there is nothing to refer to.

But once more - according to our current best physical theories (I type that phrase a lot, don't I?) - our present understanding is that within the framework of the universe as we know it, it is not possible for there not to be anything. It's just not a very clear question.
You do mention our “current best physical theories” a lot, as if that were somehow going to impress me.

No? That's merely a caveat as to the basis of my own understanding. I certainly do not care whether that impresses you, and such consideration was no part of my stressing it.

(30-04-2014 11:43 AM)living thing Wrote:  In my view, the reason why it is not possible for there not to be anything is that matter most likely comes in indivisible chunks that cannot be destroyed; a finite and constant number of individual pieces of matter that cannot be created or destroyed. But if those things could themselves turn into abstract ability to perform work, they would be disappearing; we would be left with nothing but an abstract ability of nothing to exert a force upon nothing over a distance.

But what is "abstract" about energy, or the ability to perform work? What makes that any more abstract than "matter"? It remains nothing more than the capacity for interaction...

(30-04-2014 11:43 AM)living thing Wrote:  
(29-04-2014 07:24 PM)cjlr Wrote:  Yes. True. But those are implicitly classical objects!

And that means that there is a lot more going on than is captured by their classical physics.
I can see why you view them as implicitly classical objects; I did, on purpose and for clarity, leave electromagnetic interactions and other complexities behind.

What I meant was that a statement as simple as their being "rigid", "perfectly spherical", and "in contact" are not clearly defined as quantum properties.

(30-04-2014 11:43 AM)living thing Wrote:  I was trying to illustrate how I don’t find conceptual problems in imagining a complex structure lacking any form of energy, even if that may be impossible in practice as we have both agreed several times.

I, likewise, can imagine a perfect zero-energy state - or, at least, it seems to me as though I can.

But I do not think such a thing can actually exist.

(30-04-2014 11:43 AM)living thing Wrote:  I don’t think the behaviour of individual pieces of matter, if they do exist, can be described using classical mechanics. For one, classical mechanics does not take into account electromagnetic interactions and I, however, try to take them into account. But that will hopefully be a topic for another thread.

Eh... Maxwell's laws as originally formulated are wholly classical. So is everything up to and including Helmholtz and Hertz and their contemporaries.

(30-04-2014 11:43 AM)living thing Wrote:  
(29-04-2014 07:24 PM)cjlr Wrote:  Oh, you don't want to know how much I actually love discussing and explaining physics to people.
Don’t I? Well, I think I nevertheless know that you love discussing physics, I have already enjoyed your virtual presence on several physics-related threads. But I am not so sure about your love towards explaining it. Yes, you probably like it, but when I’ve suggested those interactive conversations about general relativity, your reaction hasn’t been exactly “Great idea! That way I can explain physics to people, something I love so much”.

That is because relativity is not my field, and I am not sure of my ability to do it justice.

Don't let my exasperation fool you, I do genuinely enjoy discussing these things.

(30-04-2014 11:43 AM)living thing Wrote:  I thank you for your efforts to enlighten me and others who may also read this thread, I really do. You have already spent an infinite amount of time more on it than you had to, because you have no obligation whatsoever to possibly waste your time trying to solve my ignorance. But I hope you don’t mind if we still don’t fully agree.

Have a great day, cjlr. Take care!

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01-05-2014, 07:51 AM
RE: Uncertainty… principle?
Hello cjlr, I hope you are enjoying this conversation as much as I am, because I really am. And please don’t be exasperated; we’re only exchanging views. There is no need for you (or anyone else who may read this thread) to believe anything that I say because it might all be bollocks, and even if I may declare that I don’t believe something you may say, that doesn’t mean you’re wrong because I may be simply wrong in my disbelief.

I’m not trying to compete for intelligence and knowledge because I find mutual cooperation much more intelligent, based on my limited knowledge. I’m not trying to promote any human organisation, but humanity itself and the whole terrestrial ecosystem, although I would also promote cooperative non-terrestrial ecosystems if I knew of any. I’m not trying to promote a creator of the universe because there is no room in my view for a creator of the universe. I’m not trying to promote any political authorities because I don’t believe in authorities altogether. I’m not even trying to convince others that my views are true, because I don’t consider them truths; they simply reflect my subjective perspective and my history of personal experiences. I am just trying to express my views in an intelligible way. Am I managing to? I don’t believe so.

But please don’t be exasperated, I really admire you and I feel privileged to be able to converse with you; I wouldn’t like you to abandon our conversations out of exasperation. If you don’t expect to convince me, you won’t find it frustrating that you don’t. Please take this conversation simply as an exchange of perspectives; you state how you view things, I state how I view them, and after that, we can both try to make the most out of the combined notions.

However, there is a piece of advice I’d like to point out. I have explained several times fairly precisely, throughout this and other threads, what meanings I attach to certain words that I deem relevant. In order to understand the views I am trying to describe, it is useful to remember those meanings when reading those words in their context. I am not asking anyone to permanently adopt my usage of words as their own, because I’m not even sure that I will use words like I use them today for the rest of my life; I may learn other ways to convey the same ideas. But I am suggesting to any reader of my perspective to adopt them temporarily, just for the duration of the read. Because if the words are not read with the meanings I attach to them when I type them, then the ideas that I am trying to convey will not be conveyed.

(30-04-2014 04:10 PM)cjlr Wrote:  
(30-04-2014 11:43 AM)living thing Wrote:  I am glad that we seem to agree in one fundamental notion: there are no unquestionable truths.
Aha! But then we must question even the thing we fundamentally agree on…
Well, I don’t know if we must, but we certainly can: are there unquestionable truths?

See? I did.

My answer? I cannot say I truly know. I can think of a notion that seems to be true from every perspective I look at it (when I look at a sphere, its contour always looks like a circle, regardless of the angle from which I look at it) but I am not sure that is extensible to every possible perspective. After all, if I go far enough, I stop seeing the sphere altogether, so I am not sure it can be said that a sphere looks like a circle from every possible perspective. I only have my subjective perspective and I think it would be foolish if I considered it to be an objective truth.

(30-04-2014 04:10 PM)cjlr Wrote:  I can't see that as a meaningful or coherent distinction. Neither mass nor energy have any meaning absent interaction, but neither does information. Mass and energy are not "abstract", either; or if they are, then everything is, up to and including all human knowledge and observation, and the term becomes meaningless. In fact "information" would seem to carry far more implications of abstract nature, given its requirement of interpretation. Unless you mean something else?
I don’t think it is a requirement for information to be interpreted in order for it to be there, or even to convey implications.

I explained elsewhere that I define information as any arrangement of matter or pattern of change that conveys one or more implications. For example, a molecule of water is a relatively complex arrangement of matter (it consists of several simpler material structures, two chemical units of hydrogen and one of oxygen, occupying specific relative locations, oxygen between both hydrogens and the three of them forming an angle of slightly over one hundred degrees) subject to different patterns of change (such as the way the electron from each hydrogen moves within the same region as one outermost electron of the oxygen “atom”, closer to the latter than to the former) that conveys several implications, both direct and indirect.

A direct implication conveyed by the structure is that the distribution of electric charge within it is asymmetric; the region around the center is slightly negative due to the proximity of those two electrons from both hydrogens and the sides are slightly positive, due to those sligtly unshielded hydrogen nuclei. And through this implication, a further one arises: due to water’s partial electric polarity, its molecules can form crystalline structures stabilised by electromagnetic interactions. True, that stability is based on interactions, and I will return to this, but the point to be made here is that those implications arise without the need for any agent to interpret them. Arrangements of matter and patterns of change can have implications without interpretation.

Of course, that does not exclude that information can have implications through interpretation. A word written on a piece of paper is an arrangement of pigmented molecules on a mesh of cellulose, hemi-cellulose, lignin and other compound molecules. By convention, that arrangement of molecules conveys one or more implications through their interpretation by a reader, but if the reader ignores the convention, those implications disappear, just like they do if the molecules of ink move away from their relative locations. When a text written with hydrophilic ink (pigments that have some electric polarity) gets wet with water so that the molecules of ink can move feely in the water (thanks to water’s slight electric polarity), the paper may remain stained with ink, but the meaning conveyed by the written words disappears.

In this type of information, implications arise from the relative locations of its constituents, and those implications are lost when those relative locations change. From this notion, I can extract the idea that each constituent in this type of information is located somewhere in relation to the others; for an arrangement of ink to convey the notion of a three-dimensional set of points equidistant from a common centre, using the modern anglo-saxon convention for conveying abstract notions, the arrangement of molecules in space needs to be “sphere”. See how each symbol is in a different location relative to the rest of the symbols? If the arrangement of the same symbols were “herpes”, the notion of a three-dimensional set of points equidistant from a common centre wouldn’t be conveyed.

There may be a word to describe this property of being located somewhere in relation to other things, but for now, I will just call it “property E”. And this type of information in which implications are conveyed by the property E, I will call for now “type R”. So we’ve got R-type information in which implications arise from the location and orientation of its constituents in relation to one another, and in which those implications are lost if those relative locations change.

There is a different kind of information, however, in which the implications are not only not lost by change, but they actually arise from the change; if that change were not to happen, those implications would not arise. For example, sound. If you prevent the membrane of a loudspeaker from moving, for example by shutting down its power, no sound will be conveyed by it because sound relies on several forms of change. The motion of that membrane, the variation of air pressure in the atmosphere, the oscillation of our eardrums and other attached structures, the flow of ions in and out the membranes of our nerve cells, the variation of electric potential across those membranes…

In this type of information, which I will call “type V” to distinguish it from type R, implications arise from the change in the relative location or orientation of R-type structures that exhibit property E, and they are lost if those locations or orientations cease changing. But it is important to understand that V-type information does not exhibit property E; information of type V happens in parallel in many places. For example, when you throw a stone to an undisturbed surface of water. The motion spreads outwards in all directions at once, as concentric oscillations of the surface up and down. Each molecule of water is somewhere in relation to each other, water molecules are R-type information. But the oscillations happen in many places in parallel, that motion is not specifically located anywhere. And the implications conveyed by that motion, for example that something has disturbed the otherwise undisturbed surface of water, are also entities that are not located in any specific location in relation to anything else; change and the implications it may convey are not R-type information, because they do not exhibit property E. Instead, they exhibit what I will call “property H”, and that is that they occur during some interval.

So we’ve got information, which is anything that conveys one or more implications, of the type R if it exhibits property E (i.e., its constituents are located somewhere and oriented somehow in relation to each other), in which the implications conveyed are lost if those locations change; and of the type V if it exhibits property H (i.e., they occur during the interval while the location and/or orientation of R-type entities change), in which the implications are lost if change ceases occurring. Is this too difficult to understand?

Now, the way I use words and the way I view the universe around me, property E is "existence", property H is "happening", R-type information is "real information", and V-type information is "virtual information". Real entities are those that exist (i.e., their constituents are located somewhere in relation to each other) and entities that do not exist but nevertheless happen are virtual entities. Matter is real, it exists. Change is virtual, it happens.

From my perspective, energy is change, both potential and effective change. Energy is not real, it does not exist. Energy is not part of the structure of reality, but it is part of its behaviour. Energy is what causes things to happen, but what causes things to exist is matter. Both are forms of information, the universe is a huge set of information (a huge collection of material structures, arranged and behaving in ways such that they convey multiple implications) but matter and energy are not the same entity; matter exists, whereas change happens.

The notions of structure and behaviour are very much related, because structures yield behaviours and behaviours yield structures, but material structures and abstract behaviours are not the same kind of entity. Material structures are real, whereas abstract behaviours are virtual. In crude terms, a man and a woman are structures, and when they are in close proximity that may yield some shagging, which is a behaviour. In turn, shagging may yield new children, potentially men and women. But men, women and shagging are not the same thing. Men and women exist, but shagging happens.

Are we real or are we virtual? We’re both. We are an arrangement of things with relatively little relative motion between them that occurs during an interval, conveying multiple implications with our existence and our behaviour. But by “we” I am not just referring to human beings, or even living beings. Water molecules are neither and they too are an arrangement of things with relatively little relative motion between them that occur each during an interval, conveying multiple implications with their existence and their behaviour.

Every complex material structure that is an arrangement of two or more simpler material structures is a virtual entity, we only occur during the interval between our assembly and our disassembly. And as virtual entities, we rely heavily on interactions; we need interactions to become assembled, we need interactions in order to remain assembled, and even though we don’t really need to become disassembled, we cannot help but interact with things in our surroundings, eventually leading to our disassembly. And it is not surprising that we are biased towards virtual information, because we hardly ever come to contact, in a way that we are aware of, with a structure that is not virtual. Of course our human knowledge and our observations are abstract, because they are implications conveyed by the motion of things in our brains, but the things that move in our brains (for example, the ions of sodium and potassium that cross the membranes of our nerve cells, as well as those membranes and all other molecules that make up those cells) are not abstract, they are virtually real. They exist during some interval.

But if the universe is as quantised as it seems, if real information can be measured in individual bits of matter just like virtual information can be measured in bits of energy, then those tiny and barely significant structures are not virtual entities, because they exist, but not for any specific interval; it is the things consisting of two or more individual bits what may appear into and out of existence. Individual bits of matter most likely never appear nor disappear, they simply exist. And they can move. And they do move. And lots of other implications arise from that motion.

Is the universe as quantised as it seems? I cannot say I know.

Now, everything I have written so far may be a load of bollocks, and you shouldn’t believe it although you may try to understand it. But if it doesn’t make sense, my advice is that you don’t take it as a truth. However, I have nevertheless spent some effort trying to make my view understood because I think it might be helpful for anyone who reads it if there is any truth in it. If you ask me how I view something, I will try to explain it as clear as I can manage to, and I welcome every question because it allows me to explore different notions in greater detail. Or you may get an “I don’t know”, because there are many questions that I don’t know how to answer.

But when I ask you questions about your view, I often get excuses rather than answers. You ask me if I am using an old tiring ploy, you tell me that you don’t have time to provide answers while you do your real work, you tell me that general relativity is not your field of expertise, you tell me that my questions are incoherent, or you ignore my questions altogether. And that is all fair enough, but I hope you realise that, if you don’t make the effort to explain to me how your view can be true, you cannot expect me to simply believe that your view is true. So if you really are expecting me to accept the notions you deem true as truths, you need to be willing to explain to me the notions that I cannot understand.

And if we end up not understanding each other, that is ok, I still respect you. The fact that I may not understand what you are saying does not mean that you are wrong, I see how you use your knowledge to try to inject sanity in this insane planet, and I appreciate every effort you may put into it, because I don’t think this religious insanity will lead humanity anywhere.

There were other points that I wanted to cover, but I have to go, although I am looking forward to continuing this conversation and starting other ones.

Have fun!
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02-05-2014, 03:41 AM
RE: Uncertainty… principle?
(30-04-2014 04:10 PM)cjlr Wrote:  I do not mean that the effects [of time dilation and space contraction] are opposite - that's antisymmetric!
I think I see where you are coming from; symmetric somehow means invariant (under some transformation) and thus if two entities are opposite, they are antisymmetric. Is that more or less what you are suggesting?

But an inversion is a transformation too, and many kinds of symmetries involve the notion of an inversion. Reflections in the mirror are inverted with respect to their original images; text read through the mirror is read from right to left, opposite to the usual reading order. But otherwise those reflections are invariant. Are reflected images symmetric, or antisymmetric? Similarly, I always thought my hands were symmetric, yet my thumbs point in opposite directions. But symmetry does not only occur in the spatial axes, also in the temporal axis; events can be symmetrical with respect to an instant. A spoken and recorded palindrome, for instance, sounds the same if played forward or backwards.

I understand how the notion of symmetry conveys invariance, but it also conveys the notion of transformation, so it does not necessarily exclude the notion of an inversion. And after all, the notions of dilation and contraction do suggest opposite effects, at least in my mind; dilation does not suggest decrease but increase.

One problem I find with modern physics is that its promoters twist the meanings of common words until they are left unrecognisable, but still expect to make sense. Hence, we have atoms that are not atomic, dilation that is not increase, motion that is not change in location and/or orientation...

Oh, well. Every one is free to choose how they use their words.

Good day!
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